Memorial grad Kenneth Lofton Jr. outduels No. 2 NBA draft pick in summer league matchup

Published 12:36 am Friday, July 8, 2022

The monumental rise of Memorial grad Kenneth Lofton Jr. continued with his performance against Oklahoma City in a summer league game Wednesday.

Lofton finished with a game-high with 19 points and also added six rebounds and three assists.

The performance was more impressive considering he outplayed Chet Holmgren, who was the No. 2 pick in the recent NBA Draft.

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Lofton, who went undrafted, played with Holmgren on the USA U19 squad that won a gold medal in 2021.

Holmgren was coming off a historic performance in his first game, where he recorded 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and six blocks, which was a summer league record.

In Wednesday’s battle against Lofton, Holmgren was held to 11 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Lofton wasted little time going right at his former USA teammate on the first play of the game, muscling Holmgren under the rim for the Grizzlies’ first points.

Later in the game, Lofton hit a step-back 3-pointer over Holmgren from well beyond the line as the shot clock expired. On his way back down the court, Memphis Grizzlies star player Ja Morant, who was sitting courtside, gave Lofton a high-five.

“I step on the court and dominate my opponent and see what I can do from there,” Lofton said to the Grizzlies’ team broadcast after the game. “I went out with a mindset to attack (Holmgren) and create shots and open passes for my teammates.”

Lofton said his summer league goal is to prove he belongs in the NBA.

“It is not about how I am built,” he said. “I can get out there and play on the basketball court and play with anybody else that is great.”

Kenneth Lofton Sr. told Port Arthur Newsmedia that his son and Holmgren are friends off the court.

“They text every day and talk on the phone,” Lofton Sr. said. “They play video games together. Junior is one of those people and one of those guys who is your friend off the court, but when he gets you on the court, you’re not friends. He is going at you… After the game, you could see them still laughing with each other.”

After the game, Holmgren said Lofton is going to be in the league for many years and he looks forward to their future battles.

Lofton Sr. said the experience has been surreal.

“Me and my wife have been watching him on TV and being some proud parents,” he said. “That is something. He has been wanting for a long time to show the world who Junior Lofton is.”

Lofton’s play drew a ton of social media hype.

Twitter accounts for SportsCenter, NBA, Bleacher Report and many others posted highlights of the Port Arthur native.

“I talked with him after shoot around (Thursday) and he is ready to get back to work,” Lofton Sr. said of his son. “Me and my wife always teach him to stay focused and stay humble. We tell him to pray before he goes to bed every night and thank God for blessing him with that talent.”